Dennis Newson

Dennis Newson Down with Grammar! Link to recording of presentation

Dennis Newson M.A. (Cantab), P.D.E.S.L (Leeds) taught EFL in Africa, Arabia, Norway and Germany in middle schools, secondary schools, teacher training colleges, a technical university and an arts university. He was a consultant for short periods in Bosnia and Kosovo, and conferences have taken him to Poland, Hungary, Las Palmas, Russia and England. He has developed his interest in SL since his alleged retirement. He is also a member of the Iatefl GISIG committee (global issues), the YLTSIG committee and moderator of the YLTSIG online discussion list and online events. He did his first EVO session as a co-moderator for a project about teaching foreign languages in Second Life.

I shall first  consider and speculate just why it is that  the mention of ‘grammar’ amongst  an audience of language teachers is  likely to release the sort of passions that are otherwise reserved for the discussion of religion or politics, that is why it is that all  language   teachers
appear to have very firmly-held views on ‘grammar’. After examining a selection of learner accounts on the usefulness or otherwise of the learning of grammar in the learning and acquisition  of a foreign language, I shall then examine the arguments of a number of typical pro grammar adherents followed by a consideration of the opposing arguments  of writers like Stephen Krashen and the Dutch linguist Rens Bod and examine the relevance of some of the work on language as a complex adaptive system by Nick C. Ellis and Diane Larsen-Freeman. My thesis is that  the  belief that learning a language means learning the grammar – widely held by teachers, learners and their parents – by misunderstanding  the nature of grammar and of  effective learning is detrimental rather than supportive. Since I shall be knocking many time-honoured procedures it seems only just that I should suggest a
number of alternative approaches. These will all be based on enabling learners to mean what they wish to mean using the resources of the language they are studying and will not highlight ‘grammar’.


6 Responses to Dennis Newson

  1. Stewart Whitney says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I was unable to make it to your presentation this morning, but I can’t wait to see the recording. Any idea when it will be up?

  2. helend says:

    Thanks Dennis very much – would you be so kind as to share your ppt with us ? There were lots of interesting references to follow up 🙂

  3. osnacantab says:

    Helen – most willingly. But I would like to tidy it up a little first. I plan to do this today and tomorrow, but feel free to ask me if it is ready and where I have put it! :-)ennis

  4. philipquick says:

    Hi Dennis…..cant remember ever studying grammar in school, as a native speaker in England

    ….Anyway, i totally agree about learning never been linear.At the end of a lesson we’re supposed to say, i can statements. Well people often can a the end of the lesson, but then in the next one they’ve totally forgotten everything!!!
    Dont you think a dogme approach is too one dimensional. I always think it should be one tool in the armoury….Could you give me an idea of a lesson plan you do, to really illustrate what you are on about????
    cheers Philip

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